RUGBY | Heartbreak for Dundalk U15 girls
Leinster Division Two semi-final | Dundalk 24–29 Portarlington
A magnificent season for Dundalk RFC’s U15 girl’s team came to a heartbreaking end on Sunday as they were narrowly beaten by Portarlington in the Leinster Division Two semi-final in Athy.
A panel of 24 travelled from Dundalk and they bossed possession in the opening 10 minutes. However, converting it into points proved to be difficult as the tall Portarlington girls put Dundalk’s forwards under pressure in the ruck.
The Dundalk girls did find the try line in the corner but they were denied the points when it was adjudged that a boot went over the dead ball zone before the ball was grounded.
Portarlington replied by scoring their first unconverted try after 15 minutes when their strong inside centre broke free and crossed the white line.
Dundalk maintained possession of the ball after that and created opportunities. That led to centre, Caoimhe O’Callaghan, taking a pass from centre field and she spotted space out wide and sidestepped her opposite number and the fullback to ground the ball under the posts, leading to an easy conversion for Amy Turley.
The Co Laois side answered hit back when their strong forward line put Dundalk under pressure at the breakdown and one of their players broke free of the ruck to race over and put them ahead, 10–7.
Dundalk upped their game and forwards Miriam Finnegan and Guoda Usaite made good progress, bringing the ball into the Portarlington 22.
Some quick passing out of the ruck followed by Dundalk scrum half Clodagh Flynn and she got the ball back to fly-half Amy Turley who took her opportunity to score — and convert — Dundalk’s second try of the game.
They were dealt a blow when full-back Katie Murphy had to withdraw with an injured knee after she was hit with a bruising tackle by the Portarlington inside centre as she raced for the line.
However, with the first half in injury time, Dundalk seized another opportunity when the ball was sent to centre Caoimhe O’Callaghan and with incredible speed, pace and skill, she sidestepped her way to ground the ball in the corner and extend Dundalk’s lead to 19–10.
Portarlington returned after the break on the front foot and their efforts paid off when they scored and converted the first try of the second half.
Dundalk, though, showed no signs of surrender and when Eva Toal took the ball into Portarlington’s 22 and raced, head down, for the try line to make it 24–17 in Dundalk’s favour, it was anyone’s game.
Things started to wobble when another try was disallowed in a similar fashion to the first before the fast paced Caoimhe O’Callaghan also had to be replaced after sustaining a knock to the head.
Portarlington made the most of Dundalk’s heartache and injury and scored another strong try, closing the score to 24–22 and they edged five points in front, 29–24, with a converted try shortly after.
The Dundalk girls dug deep and the brilliant Eva Toal came within 10 metres of the try line before she was tackled high and brought to ground with the offending Portarlington centre yellow carded and sent off for foul play.
As the clock ticked down, Dundalk maintained possession of the ball in the opponent’s 22 but, sensing victory, Portarlington, put on an incredible display of defence and held out to win an incredible and exciting game of rugby by five points.
The Dundalk RFC U15 coaches would like to thank all of the parents and supporters who travelled to Athy to support the girls. This is the team’s second season playing full contact rugby and their commitment, enthusiasm and success this year has to be applauded.
After 10 games of rugby, playing teams from all over Leinster, Dundalk RFC U15 girls topped the Leinster League table by winning eight of their 10 games and collecting two losing bonus points. An incredible achievement!
Dundalk RFC would also like to thank coaches Laurence Steen, Suzanne Flynn, Kevin Conway, Fergus O’Callaghan, Niall Kerley and Linda Valentine for their dedication and commitment to the side this season.
DUNDALK RFC U15 GIRLS: Miriam Finnegan, Orla Tooher, Guoda Usaite, Karen Nulty, Eva Toal, Amy McGeough, Clodagh Flynn, Amy Turley, Holly McEntaggart, Molly Hughes, Caoimhe O’Callaghan, Mia Harrison, Katie Murphy. Subs: Aoise Finnegan, Grace Cranny, Grace Quigley, Erin Casey, Sophie Turley, Neasa Boyle, Ashling Meade-Melaugh, Erin Gonnolly, Aima Idogho, Rebekah Martin, Katie Farrell.